I am a kid on Christmas morning!

I woke up today with that lovely feeling of excitement-similar to Christmas morning when (especially as a kid) you would see a pillow case in the half light-all strangely shaped, with odd angles and enticing you too dive in to see what Santa had brought you! We are flying to London today and I never fail to LOVE this trip. Getting on close to midnight has an odd, exotic appeal -sort of naughty to stay up so late! Then I love the bit where we fly over the Middle East and you can sometimes see little circles of lights and know you are probably gazing at small wadi desert settlements. I love the strange, the different, the weird-the stuff that makes us think and stretches our minds.

I believe this feeling of excitement needs to be nurtured in children. We had a meeting with an educator interested in puchasing my programs and I was trying to tell her about the physical environment of our centre-how we use certain symbols and effects to get the kids enthralled when they arrived and excited about education. I love to watch kid’s eyes when we tell a new story, sing a funny song abour grammar etc-they shine and even kids who get bored easily are WITH us if we have a degree of surprise and excitement somewhere in the lesson. I have come to learn that children have a deep understanding of symbols and love the layers of mystery and meaning wrapped around these.

So much has happened on this Singapore trip! We have a number of people interested in our licence and it was so exciting to observe the children at Genius Learning Hub being taught with my lesson plans. The teachers followed the plans so well, adding in their own creative twists and the kids are doing so well. The methods are really starting to ripple out into the world.

So-journeys of all sort-educational, ones that cross the world, those that take us into uncharted areas of the mind-they all need this sense of mystery and excitement-the destination is important but the journey even more so!

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CONTEMPLATION TIME

I am sitting up in bed eating a perfect banana in a Singapore hotel. Bananas have become an incredibly expensive fruit in WA due to floods etc so they have acquired an exotic, luxurious and almost deliciously forbidden nature for me!

This is day for thinking-catching up on report writing- breakfast and swim at the Tanglin Club-starting a new book-a day to ponder and enjoy-a jewel of 24 hours!

I think a lot about time because I notice-
1. How quickly it goes-how appallingly fast the years are flying by!
2. How no-one seems to have time to wonder/dream any more.
3. Kids are hassled/hurried/worried and restless from continuous activity
4. We feel guilty doing nothing!

And yet-NOTHING-this wondrous NOTHING is when SOMETHING can come-can plop into the soft, waiting space we created. If we have no spaces in our life-no fuzzy edges-no interstices-how can anything come in?
I find days like today, although preciously rare, are the true drivers of my soul and purpose. They are the days when God can whisper- “Come, consider this. Look at this possibility. Try another way”.
So I have this gift-this 24 hours to use or rather not to use-to just BE!

 

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A BOOK TO INSPIRE!

Just finished reading WARSAW ANAGRAMS by Richard Zimler-utterly breathtaking, amazing book. I want to go right now to Warsaw and stand on Ghetto ground and just pray, pray and pray.
laughed and cried and delighted in the language-such economy of words and the clever interveaving of Yiddish to entrance an “in love with language” goy like me to want to learn more!
How about this made up Yiddish word: Zunfargangmeyvn-a connoisseur of sunsets: someone who has learned to savour what others take for granted. This is what I aspire to be!!!

And how about this, ” And I try to live in a world where the most soft-spoken people win all the arguments”.

READ IT-you won’t be the same!

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A REAL AWAKENING IN COMPASSION

I was reading more of Goleman’s research on empathy and compassion and reading about various experiments that show supposedly intelligent, caring people can easily walk around and over sick and distressed people without offering help.

The next day I was driving through Guildford and saw a guy eating from a rubbish bin and thought, “That is so sad!” There were people all around eating/shopping etc in the trendy precinct.

I drove on feeling sad for the guy and then it hit me-I was doing the exact same thing Goleman had referred to-ignoring-too uncomfortable to really acknowledge what was happening and confront it.

So-a big U-turn later I pulled up in Guildford and hurried towards the man who was by now laying on a bench with everyone walking past, ignoring him! I walked with trepidation up to him-he stuck his hand out and this somehow made it easier-he knew what he needed and I knew what to give-transaction complete-he leapt up and took off towards a cafe to get some food. For me this was a seminal moment and somehow this changed me-I want to stay awake.

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EMPATHY AND THE BASICS IN EDUCATION

Just been reading and reflecting on Daniel Goleman’s book: SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE.
Surely EMPATHY must be one of the most important qualities we develop as teachers. It is the ability to look deeply into a child’s eyes, notice their body language and listen attentively to the tone as well as the words they say-this ability defines great teachers. We need to look at HOW we can develop this within teachers and I am going to emphasise this in our EQ4SCHOOLS training. Everyone can learn teaching strategies and consider the good/bad points about available programs-but not everyone can really “see” the children they teach. I have noticed lately that the teachers I employ have this quality and yet I didn’t even know that was the quality I was looking for!
When a child is truly recognised -when their ESSENCE is honoured, something magical happens. Last night a child handed me something beautiful and passionate she had written about honouring Aboriginals and I SAW her properly-not just her educational needs but the beautiful ESSENCE-her ability to really care and empathise with marginalised people. This glimpse deep into a child’s ESSENCE or FLAVOUR can lead to a subtle difference in communication and to more tuned-in, and finer choices of reading materials, educational programs etc.
Of course all this takes TIME and I am so convinced that SLOW-TEACHING is really important. Children cannot learn at speed and we need to slow down the process and make sure each piece happens deeply and thoroughly.

We are running our own SPELLING RULES program this term and have been revising alphabetical order, capitalising Proper Nouns etc and our teachers have been amazed at children 7-11 who simply do not know these things. Schools have more and more pressures to fit in more and more-and yet the basics are being missed. This is what we MUST provide at ICE-in the most interesting, creative and explicit and effective manner as possible! This deep understanding of basic literacy and numeracy, plus improved levels of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE through our EQ4KIDZ course-these are the gifts from ICE to our children.

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BEST OF TIMES-WORST OF TIMES!

Just been reading about the protesters in Madrid – seems to be great waves of grass-roots protests around the world. I am so amazed by the brave people of the middle east – these are amazing times!

EVERYWHERE people are standing up and it is so good to see the difference that can be made by individuals joining together to be counted.

Children will be learning about these times and history will have names for these grassroots movements – we are truly living through inspirational times.

I wish the same could be said for education – especially in Australia. The NAPLAN tests are just finished and we have worked with scores of children this week to help them deal with their fear and concerns about these tests.

I don’t have a problem with sampling standards and ensuring students are working at appropriate levels. Problem is – all the hype and pressure that has been brought to bear on teachers and children. These kids have been working flat out on sample tests from February to now and both kids and teachers are utterly sick of it! NAPLAN has become the default National Curriculum for yrs 3/5/7/9 and will remain so when-

a. Teachers are judged and rewarded (or not – especially if they have children with problems in their class)

b. Many private schools ask for children’s NAPLAN tests before enrolling children.

Parents/teachers and children are all stressed out and many children are incredibly worried about the results.

Surely it would have been possible to have standardised school-based assessments rather than this expensive, self-esteem eating monstrosity.

Teachers ARE teaching to the test and this year the children we teach have been put off persuasive texts for life!!!! What a neat way to totally kill a love of writing!

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Thoughts for May

I am dreaming of the forthcoming holiday-furtively planning sorties in London art galleries, imagining coffee and watching the elegant Parisians and laying on the hot, hot beach in Rhodes! The absolute pleasure of the planning and the excitement of planning the novels and the writing and thinking time………..

There is that word again TIME- watching our children as they interact and struggle-sometimes joyfully and sometimes with utter frustration with our learning programs-they need TIME! We rush them all the time at school/before school/after school/weekends-when can children just “be”? When will great ideas form, new ways of solving occur and thinking breakthroughs occur if we rob kids of time? We are moving in ever diminishing circles and are in danger of disintegrating thoughts and minds.

We follow Howard Gardner’s model of the 8 intelligences at INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR EXCELLENCE and believe INTRAPERSONAL intelligence to be so important. This is the intelligence that allows us to know what we know-to be metacognitive in nature and to wonder and dream. Einstein was wondering and dreaming when he had his thinking breakthrough-he had the time to wonder and dream? Will our kids have this time? I doubt it.

why on earth are we all so hell bent on filling up every single moment and robbing ourselves, our children and the future generations of dreams, perceptions, new ideas and the sorts of breakthroughs this world so badly needs?

Anyway-at least I shall have my selfish/wonderful/longed for time to dream and think-my Sabbath!

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Introduction

Hi, I am Martin, Victoria’s husband and business partner. Many of you will have already read articles by Victoria in The Parents Paper in Western Australia or Singapore Child in Singapore. Others will have attended a workshop or other training run by Victoria.

You will all have been captivated by her enthusiasm, knowledge and passion.

I created this blog for Victoria to express her thoughts in a more direct and spontaneous manner and to allow you, her readers, to gain some degree of interaction with your thoughts and questions.

Now I have to show Victoria how to interact with this new world of blogs….. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we will begin!

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